Morimoto Napa has just opened in Northern California but it is already generating more than its fair share of buzz. The cuisine is a perfect fusion, combining the best of Morimoto’s signature flare with a California twist. Masaharu Morimoto is best known for his role on the original Japanese Iron Chef and the spinoff version Iron Chef America. While he has a variety of restaurants on the east coast including locations in New York, Philadelphia, and Boca Ration, this is his first west coast location.
When entering the restaurant, you are immediately surrounded by diners. The friendly hostesses are placed just beyond the initial few tables. The walls are painted in netural tones with large organic wooden branches hung about. Walking along the interior corridor, there is a giant colorful mural of fish. As I was escorted to my table, we passed along the exposed kitchen where I suddenly saw Morimoto. He was expediting food, right where guests walk. He wasn’t even behind a counter. It was amazing to see such an established and famous chef modestly working in the kitchen like any other employee. I was enthusiastic to know Morimoto would be overseeing all the dishes we would be served.
After scanning the menu, what caught my eye were the inventive names for the dishes. Two of which we ordered, the Angry Chicken and Duck Duck Goose, had us all smiling. I opted for the Crispy Whole Fish. When it was served, I could not help but laugh. Though the entire fish was deboned, it was placed upright on my place as if it were swimming through water. Despite the playfulness of the dishes, they tasted amazing. The sashimi was practically artwork. It was almost too gorgeous to eat, but it was extremely fresh and beautifully cut.
For dessert we ordered both the Milk Chocolate Mousse and the “Doughnuts”. The mousse was served with a citrus ginger and banana sorbet. The dish was both decedent and refreshing. The “Doughnuts” were very unique. They were soft doughnut holes covered in sugar, served with Japanese molasses, vanilla honey, as well as four sugars of soy bean, green tea, ginger, and lavender. We were instructed to dip the doughnuts into one of the sauces and then one of the sugars. Though I can’t say all of the combinations suited my taste, they were definitely the most original doughnuts I have ever eaten. This restaurant was a destination in and of itself and I promise the drive from San Francisco is worth the hour. It is easy to see why Morimoto is such a well known chef and I am pleased he has brought his talent and unique culinary vision to the Bay Area.
Morimoto Napa is located at 610 Main St, Napa, CA. For reservations call 707.252.1600 or visit www.morimotonapa.com.